Definition of precept in English:



  • 1A general rule intended to regulate behaviour or thought:

    ‘the legal precept of being innocent until proven guilty’
    [mass noun] ‘children learn far more by example than by precept’
    • ‘He was a theologian with well-defined critiques of secularism and unhealthy laxity of behavior on moral precepts.’
    • ‘Too many attitudes will have become ingrained, too many old moral precepts will have disappeared.’
    • ‘These intuitionist approaches, whether at the level of specific precepts or general principles, are not only theoretically unsatisfying, but are also quite unhelpful in practical matters.’
    • ‘It then promotes this into a moral precept for life in general.’
    • ‘Moreover, religious moral precepts designate legal from illegal, right from wrong, in society.’
    • ‘Then the aspirant has her head shaved and takes her first set of precepts, 10 training rules.’
    • ‘To sum up, we can say that the form of the moral law as a categorical imperative is the personal command of God and that the general precepts of this law constitute the content of his will.’
    • ‘Very few of them received an Arnoldian education though they would have imbibed the same moral precepts.’
    • ‘Thundering with divine authority and flowing with moral clarity, these precepts function as a mirror to show where humankind stands on the highest standard of moral and ethical behaviour.’
    • ‘It can also mean a precept, rule, principle, maxim, formula or method.’
    • ‘It involves rules and precepts - the do's and don'ts of life with others - as well as explicit instructions, exhortations, and training.’
    • ‘Now, we can certainly discuss whether the criteria I use to determine which behavior or set of precepts is more moral than another are reasonable or unreasonable criteria.’
    • ‘The five precepts are the nearest rules to the Ten Commandments.’
    • ‘Candidates were to demonstrate in their lives the precepts of the Golden Rule.’
    • ‘But this does not mean that the Prince is amoral; it merely indicates that he was honest enough to face the difficulty of adjusting political behaviour to moral precepts.’
    • ‘For example, Albert the Great remarked that the more general a precept is, the more properly it may be said to belong to the natural law.’
    • ‘But though they mistook his observations of human behaviour for universal precepts, he must take some of the blame.’
    • ‘Within these rules or precepts are five which are undertaken by all those trying to adhere to a Buddhist way of life.’
    • ‘Elder initiated men also instruct them in moral precepts and beliefs.’
    • ‘The general structural and moral precepts around which these relationships are constituted are evident at certain stages of beer drinks.’
    principle, rule, tenet, canon, code, doctrine, guideline, working principle, law, ordinance, statute, command, order, decree, mandate, dictate, dictum, directive, direction, instruction, injunction, prescription, commandment
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  • 2A writ or warrant:

    ‘the Commissioner issued precepts requiring the companies to provide information’
    • ‘‘I do not think the electorate will wear very large precepts from police authorities any more than they would wear very large precepts from local authorities,’ he said.’
  • 3British An order issued by one local authority to another specifying the rate of tax to be charged on its behalf:

    ‘the precept required a supplementary rate of 6.1p in the pound’
    1. 3.1 A rate or tax set by a precept.
      • ‘The flood plain tax would replace the existing system under which householders across the country pay a precept on their Council Tax bills - regardless of whether they live in flood risk areas.’
      • ‘The executive's budget recommendations will now go to Monday's meeting of the full council, along with the council tax precepts of Lancashire County Council and the Police Authority.’
      • ‘Taxpayers will receive their bills as part of their council tax invoices issued from April this year, although the police and fire precepts are both separate from Town Hall rates.’
      • ‘Speaking in a Westminster debate, he dismissed the plans for areas which need new flood defences to pay for the work themselves through a special precept as ‘absurd’.’
      • ‘It will mean a rise in the police precept in council tax of seven per cent which equates to 10 pence a week per council taxpayer.’
      • ‘For far too long local people have been forced to pay precepts which are nearly twice the rate of other neighbouring town councils.’
      • ‘Regional assemblies will be funded primarily from central government grant, but they will be able to raise additional funds from precepts on council tax.’
      • ‘He is happy to talk to those who want to discuss issues with the parish precept.’
      • ‘He said the issue arose because Ilkley was in the unique position as the only parish council in the district charging a precept.’
      • ‘But the recent large rises in council tax and precepts - in some cases 40 or 50 percent - are simply not sustainable.’
      • ‘Local authority precepts are likely to increase again in the next financial year, and it will get worse - council tax bands are to be revalued by 2007.’
      • ‘The town council has managed to keep the rise in its council tax precept to the rate of inflation in the next financial year.’
      • ‘My understanding is that as such a substantial part of the parish precept on the council tax is used to finance the bowling green and the pavilion, it is essential that ‘ownership’ is taken up by village groups and individuals.’
      • ‘Regional assemblies' funds would come both from central government and through a precept on the council tax.’
      • ‘Lakes parish councillors are considering whether to increase parish precepts in order to safeguard the future of two public toilets.’
      • ‘All we are suggesting is that the parish councils take over the ones in the villages and that they pay to run them from their council tax precepts.’
      • ‘The 18.5 per cent comes on top of other levies including parish council precepts and special expense.’
      • ‘Coincidentally, it cost us £78 to repair - the same amount we were being charged for the police precept.’
      • ‘West Yorkshire Police Authority chiefs spelt out how they set their spending and council tax precepts to Bradford councillors last night.’
      • ‘He said the total precept charged by North Yorkshire Police increased by 182.9 per cent between 2000/1 and 2003 / 4.’


Late Middle English: from Latin praeceptum, neuter past participle of praecipere warn, instruct, from prae before + capere take.